When I said NO

I’m about four in this memory. I’m visiting my maternal grandmother’s house, and one day, I beg my elder cousin to take me out to an event happening in the city centre. I know she has a car and can drive me there. She’s taken me to different places in her car before.

Today, however, she suggests something else.

“Well, hon,” she drawls. “If you wanna go there, you gotta ask my brother to drive us there.”

“Why?” I ask. “Why not your car?”

“Well, hon,” my cousin drawls again. “It’s because I’m not driving today.”

“Why not?”

“Just because,” she says, getting to her feet. “Now, let’s go ask my brother. He should be in his room.”

I’m not happy with her suggestion. I want to go in her car, not in anybody else’s. Plus, I don’t know her brother well since he is always either out or hiding in his room. I’m not sure if I trust a stranger to accompany us. Still, wanting to go to the event, I follow my cousin to her brother’s room upstairs.

Just when we reach his room, however, my mischievous cousin pushes me in front of her.

“Since it’s your idea, you’re going to ask him, ok?”

“But what do I tell him?” I whisper back to her, panicked. I’ve never spoken to him before as far as I can recall. I don’t remember him to be chatty, either.

“Just ask him to drive us to the city centre.”

I don’t think that’s a good idea. To ask a stranger to drive us to the city centre feels both inappropriate and dangerous. But before I can think anything further, we arrive at the open door to my other cousin’s room. He’s reading something by the window, his large silhouette intimidating.

“What’s up?” He looks up upon our sudden noisy arrival.

“Hon, ask him,” my cousin nudges me from behind, but I’ve locked up. No voice comes out of me. My cautious gaze is pinned to the tall figure by the window. “Ask him to drive us to the city centre.”

“What are you doing up there?” His expression is now puzzled as he puts down his book.

“Well, she was going to ask you something. Right, hon?” My cousin looks at me, but I don’t respond. “She was going to ask you to drive us to the city centre for an event.”

“To the city centre?” He turns to me for more explanation, but both my embarrassment and discomfort have reached the limit.

“NO!!” I exclaim, suddenly finding my voice. “I’m not asking you anything!”

With that, I turn around and run down the stairs as fast as I can. And once I hit the first floor, the idea of going to the city centre itself vanishes. It’s as if it never existed. I go to the furthest part of the house so that nobody can find me, then resume the play I was doing earlier.